Tag Archives: pharisee

Holiness and Christian Hygiene

A sink for ritual hand-washing at the entrance to the Ramban Synagogue.

A Recent Church Facebook Post:

The closer you get to Jesus, the more everything else seems so unimportant.

To truly love Christ is not only to desire to be more like him, but to honor him in duty and character. My God is HOLY ♥

Yes, God is LOVE, and that is so integral to understand, but HIS Holiness is of equal if not more importance. HOLINESS looks like something, HOLINESS acts HOLY, HOLINESS loves with a HEAVENLY love, HOLINESS lives a life that honors GOD, and furthermore HOLINESS does not turn on and off, it is there in the dark and in the light, it is there at home, on the street, and church, and on social media, or Snapchat. HOLINESS honors their elders, and treats the house of God with reverence. HOLINESS holds onto the things that are important to GOD.

It is not an exploitation, a ticket to popularity, or self-exaltation. HOLINESS is always HUMBLING.

My brothers and my sisters, it is that HOLINESS that sets us apart. When we seek the face of God there should always be a pulling to separate ourselves from the things that don’t look like him! The more I know him, the more I love him, that much MORE am I aware of my unholiness, Lord let us be more like you!

A friend recently ran across this from a neighborhood church, sent it on to me, and asked what I thought of it. She said there was something about it that didn’t sit right with her, although she didn’t disagree with anything specific in the words.

I could not agree more with all of this. Even a brief look at Isaiah 6 fills the soul with this tremendous sense of reverence at the intimate unmediated presence of the HOLY.

Jesus preached constantly of the HOLY. Of the immediate presence of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Lots of the people around Him thought they understood what HOLY meant. Obviously… HOLY means wearing the proper godly clothes, carrying oneself in the proper righteous manner, associating only with those religiously and morally acceptable, vilifying those who were unclean, irreverent, unholy, or sinful, and certainly behaving properly in/at the Temple… respectful of her customs and leadership.

Here Jesus came… not only talking… but WALKING a lifestyle that appeared (to those who were the most expert in godly holiness) entirely UNholy… associating with fallen women, embracing sin riddled lepers, freeing demoniacs from their bondage, consorting with publicans, tax-collecting collaborators with the Romans, healing or telling others to carry forbidden things on the Sabbath, even discussing sacred things with pagans and women, defending the morally irredeemable like fornicators and adulteresses.

And yet… scripture makes clear… HOLINESS does, indeed, have an appearance. The Father is utterly HOLY. But only ONE knows what that looks like… “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.” [John 6:45b-46] Jesus, in fact, NEVER ONCE uses the word “Holy” as a descriptor of the Father. This word HOLY, (ἅγιος, -ία, -ιον), appears only 40 times in the Gospels, Twice referring to the City of Jerusalem, once describing what is not to be given to dogs, once describing a location for the Abomination of Desolation, once uttered by a demon addressing Jesus, once describing John the Baptist in the knowledge of Herod, twice describing angels, once as an angel describes Jesus, once describing the prophets of old, once describing the covenant of the law, once declaring the firstborn male of all species to be holy, and once referring to God in Luke’s rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew’s rendition uses the word “hallowed” (ἁγιάζω), more often translated “sanctified” or “rendered holy”. Every other Gospel referent to the word “Holy”, primarily spoken by Jesus, is as part of the phrase we translate “Holy Spirit”, (hagios pneuma – ἅγιος πνεῦμα).

So what? Why take so much time to look carefully at what Jesus, the Gospels, and the Bible have to say about Holy and God? Simply that humanity has a tendency to think we know better than God. That God can say something simple, like Jesus’ and John’s revelations that God IS LOVE, and that we will be known as Christians not by our apparent self-righteousness or image of holiness, but by our love for one another. [CF 1 John 3:10-5:3; John 13:34-35] Frail and foolish humanity, all too often deceived by the “appearance” and “status-driven” appetites of power, politics, economics, and social esteem, tend to look upon the “appearance” of the self-righteous and holy-sounding, without seeing the heart as God sees people.

Jesus was both grieved and sickened by such hypocrisy. One day, the religious leaders (whose job they felt it was to defend the Holy at all costs), pointed out the sinful way Jesus and his disciples were eating, having neglected to wash properly, thus disrespecting what they called the “tradition of the elders”. Jesus names them outright, “hypocrites”, quoting Isaiah’s excoriation of them and stating, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men… You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’;, and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God); you no longer permit him to do anything for his father and mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many such things as that.” [Mark 7:6-13]

Those consumed with religiosity and theology, tend to succumb to the arrogance that they can “define” such words as “righteousness” or “holiness” as things in themselves… free standing concepts apart from the character and nature of God Himself. The problem is, such concepts have true meaning only WITHIN the character and nature of God Himself.

Both Jesus and John assure us that LOVE is not simply a “characteristic”, or an “accidental or subsequent descriptor” of God. Love is not just “one among many features” of God. Love is an essential NAME of God. And SO is HOLY, by the way. And so is RIGHTEOUSNESS. None of these words, these concepts, these names, have meaning or can reflect Truth, without being grounded in one another.

That is… without Love, there is no Holiness. Holiness is one expression of Perfect Love. And Love is one expression of Perfect Holiness. Righteousness is an expression of Love, and Love always expresses itself Righteously… never by corruption or exploitation or cruelty.

I agree wholeheartedly with the initial thesis of the Facebook post… but it seems incumbent upon any careful scriptural scholar to hasten to point out that just as God is Himself Indivisible, so too is His Nature and are His Names.

Fortunately, for those of us who diligently seek to know, love, and see the face of God…

Philip shared that passion. “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:8-15]

An Ultimate Definition of HOLINESS Perhaps?

Holiness is patient, Holiness is kind and is not jealous; Holiness does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Holiness never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  [CF I Cor 13:4-10]













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When Posts Collide — Train Wreck

I had intended to begin this post with the observation that I have been “hoist on my own petard”… and that…(*someday I must look up what a “petard” looks like. Perhaps I’ll do that to illustrate this post. Sounds painful, anyway… Oops… let that cat go, Little Monk… stay on topic… OK*).

But then I DID look it up, and found THIS… which I could not resist putting here. After looking this up, seeing the etymology of the word and references to flatulence, I’m not sure I’ll ever use this phrase again… nonetheless…

petardA petard was a small bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications, of French origin and dating back to the sixteenth century. A typical petard was a conical or rectangular metal object containing 2–3 kg (5 or 6 pounds) of gunpowder, with a slow match as a fuse. Petard comes from the Middle French peter, to break wind, from pet expulsion of intestinal gas, from the Latin peditus, past participle of pedere, to break wind, akin to the Greek bdein, to break wind (Merriam-Webster). … Read More »

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Anyway, if you have been with me the past couple weeks you’ll recall that I recently came to a painful but profound epiphany on “judging”, (realizing that to judge is a sin, and Jesus wants us not to do it… and He said so… a time or two). My current state is “Jesus gives me training wheels”, a stage in transformation by renewal wherein the Lord graciously sets up kind of a “buzzer” or “alarm” in my spirit when I start to pull out “measurement instruments” in looking upon someone else.

I am deeply indebted to Paulfg (“Just me being curious“) for following my realization on forward with the question, “Well, in that our nature and DNA are set up to ‘assess’, but God warns us off from ‘judging’, what DID He intend that part of our nature to be rightly used for?” And that made great sense, we are made in His image, so… this HUGE part of the way we perceive can’t just be there as a “stumbling block”. Then Paul actually answered the question himself when he proposed, “perhaps God intends it to be used to realize the needs of others, and provide for them!” EUREKA! Of Course! How OBVIOUS once you see that! It’s not a matter of “measuring and comparing” the strengths or weaknesses of others (or even ourselves), as much as it is a matter simply of “recognizing what is needed” that we provide for it. Simple, eh? Six decades… and I can wake up to a First Grade Sunday School Lesson. Amazing, innit?

So.. I now walk in the shoes of the “reforming addict”… quite sensitive to my own tendency to “judge” and evaluate… sensitive and attentive to any “warning buzz” that Jesus puts to my perception or cognition when I start to move into “white lab-coat mode”… and fleeing like a scalded cat from “proximate occasions of sin” or situations that will tempt me beyond my strength. (Like an alcoholic avoiding bars or taverns. Not necessarily an issue of sin per se… but certainly a proximate occasion and potential trigger of sin for me.)

Fine, so far so good. Please pray for me in my ongoing efforts of reform. So… where does this “Petard” part come in, eh?

Well, I just posted The Jeweler’s Tale regarding the creation and nature of a Bondservant. Here is the relevant scriptural text:

21 “Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them:

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. [Exodus 21]

All I had intended to highlight in this post is how deeply ingrained this Old Testament concept of a “bondservant”, a “slave” who begins their “slave career” under duress and constraint… but then “falls in love” and volunteers to give up their liberty forever… how deep this Truth reflects our lives as Christians. Or at least, the availability of such a state, when undertaken by choice. That’s ALL I meant to comment on.

In preparing that, I did some research on the concept of “doulos” and “bondservant”, and happened upon what looked like a very scholarly theological consideration of this idea. Reading on through the article, I saw that the author was incredibly critical… condemned the use of the word “bondservant” in the New Testament… argued that the Greek word “doulos” had two, and only two available meanings… “slave” or “servant”… and that all this “bondservant” stuff was fundamentally sentimental mush inserted by a 19th Century lexicographer who totally mistranslated and misinterpreted Paul and the other scriptural authors.

Well, Gentle Reader, just wave a red flag in front of a bull, why doncha!!??

My adrenalin shot up. My sarcasm kicked in. Instantly, I’m talking to my computer screen like, “What the heck! Where did this guy ever do his Bible Studies? Has he even READ Exodus? No, the Greeks didn’t have a word for “volunteer slave”… who’d ever have thought of such a thing but God? That is a Hebrew concept. Paul knew it well. It was the law in Israel, not Greece! What’s WRONG with this guy?” (Do you start to see my problem here? If not, revisit “Pulling the Heads off Flies“, because man oh man, I am gleefully decapitating this so and so like nobody’s business.) Bear in mind, all I’m seeing are words on a page… no names… no idea what’s up with all that.

Right… so… far from the “Petal for the Day” being the beauty of “Doulos” as a Christian concept of “servanthood by love”… apparently, MY “Petal for the Day” is: “Let’s see how serious you are, Little Monk, about learning not to judge?”

Because, when I finished the article and decided to get to the root of the website… come to find out two things… One: This is a BIG NAME Preacher/Pastor/Author/Speaker/Church Expert in the Protestant Universe… (I think I even own one of his commentaries)… and Two: His most recent blog post and theme is “Naming Names” of theologically unsound preacher/teachers, and “rooting heretics out of the Church” when they say “scripturally wrong” things (translate: disagrees with him).

And OK, right about there, the Lord finally just “thumped me in the head”. “NO! Little Monk, NO! Don’t TOUCH!” in His sharpest tones. Thereby, FINALLY, getting my attention!

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So, Gentle Reader, nothing here but a “journal report along the journey”. Here I sit, convicted and repentant/determined… and confused… in the ruins of my own personal “spiritual train wreck” where the ideas of Doulos and Don’t Judge, just collided full force top speed.

I am backing away slowly from all that adrenalin. I will NOT rise to the bait again. That minister is a dedicated son and servant to Our Father. It is not my role or my right to evaluate his performance. He stands or falls before his own master, because his master strengthens him to stand or fall. (cf Romans 14). But… but…

Feel free to pray for me, Gentle Reader. For this is like a diabetic choco-holic sitting in front of a 5-layer fudge cake, while the Lord sits alongside slowly repeating… “don’t touch it… don’t touch it…. don’t touch it…” It just seems like it’s CALLING my NAME!!!

Anyway, do check out the concept and idea of a Bond-servant. Don’t worry about whether Greeks knew about “love-slaves” or not. This word “doulos” is the word Mary used to answer Gabriel when her maternity was explained to her. The phrase we know as “Behold the handmaid of the Lord…” uses “doule“, and no part of scripture ever indicates that she was legally enslaved either by debt or by war.

Meantime, I’m going to pray to bless, and be grateful for the servanthood and presence of my brother pastor… and wait for my heart, sentiments, and adrenalin to catch up with my conscience, discernment, and will.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for your prayers! We’re all in this together! Grace to you! — The Little Monk


Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized


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